Skip to main content

Bergdahl, Boko Haram and Benghazi

By Newt Gingrich
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich says the problems with the Bergdahl case are part of a larger pattern
  • He links the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram and deaths in Benghazi to soldier's release
  • He calls the swap for five prisoners a surrender, not a negotiation

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays, and author of a new book, "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate." A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Ali Meshkin is a researcher for Gingrich. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

(CNN) -- The third "B" in the collapse of our national security system and the State Department hit this week.

The release of five very high-value terrorist leaders as a swap for one U.S. serviceman was the third strike against the Obama administration's policy of defeat, dishonesty and self-delusion.

When Congress starts investigating the Bergdahl case it must broaden the analysis to look at the common patterns which connect it to the administration's approach on two other national security questions: Boko Haram and Benghazi.

The first was Hillary Clinton's State Department's decision from 2011 to 2013 to reject requests by the FBI, CIA, Justice Department and many congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle to list Nigeria's Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

Well before Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria in April, the State Department's arguments for keeping the Nigerian extremist group off the list were almost exactly the arguments used to distort what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, and to justify releasing five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban leaders.

Boko Haram, we were told, was a local organization without aspirations to international terrorism. This assessment required us to ignore the fact that Boko Haram's first base camp in northern Nigeria was called "Afghanistan" in honor of the Taliban. It required us to ignore the fact that the group burned Christian churches on Christmas Day. It required us to ignore the fact that members of Boko Haram went to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for training. None of this, self-delusional "experts" in the State Department assured us, meant that Boko Haram was a "real" terrorist organization.

Then in 2012 came riots in Cairo and Benghazi, among other places in the Muslim world. These were not caused by vicious, anti-American religious extremists, the experts assured us -- that would have violated the State Department ethos of appeasing others and blaming ourselves -- but by a YouTube video. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eventually went so far as to disavow the content of the video on behalf of the American people.

Just as the apology machine began to run at full speed, blaming the obscure filmmaker and absolving the mob of its permanent willingness to attack the United States for any reason, along came the attack that killed the American ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.

The self-deluding national security machine lied to the entire country and denied what really happened at Benghazi. The driving force in the lies was the Clinton State Department, which specifically asked for the intelligence community analysis to be changed.

Bergdahl's captivity: Fact vs. fiction
Fmr. Navy SEAL: 'This was choreographed'
What if the handoff had gone awry?
The days before Bergdahl's capture

Now we have the most disastrous of the three "B's": Bergdahl.

While we can be glad an American soldier has been returned from captivity, the release of five senior enemy commanders is a defeat of the first order. Taliban leader Mullah Omar declared the swap a great victory. The Taliban got everything it asked for. This swap was a surrender, not a negotiation.

It's likely that the five Taliban leaders will all go into action immediately. The notion that their presence in Qatar restricts them is just one more example of self-delusion and dishonesty by the State Department. Both the Treasury and the State Department have identified Qatar as a hot bed of fundraising for radical Islamists. The Qataris have consistently meddled in Middle Eastern countries on the side of radicals and against the U.S.

The return of the senior Taliban commanders is as big a defeat as America has suffered in a very long time.

Who knows how many will die when these five leaders resume their war against the West?

Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl's release in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama released the five Taliban leaders without ever consulting his Afghan "allies," who must feel very threatened between the previous week's announcement by the president of an arbitrary American withdrawal date and now the unilateral release of five of their mortal enemies.

The Left's selfishness, self-centeredness and duplicity abandons allies when they become "inconvenient."

Obama's foreign policy successes seem to come at enormous cost to other people.

These are photos, obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities. These are photos, obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.
Guantanamo detainees swapped for Bergdahl
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Guantanamo detainees swapped Guantanamo detainees swapped

The president's argument that we simply had to cut a deal for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because of his health goes against the American experience in every recent war. In Vietnam, many American prisoners of war were held longer than Bergdahl and 114 died in captivity. In the Korean War, more than 7,100 Americans became prisoners of war and just over 2,700 are known to have died in captivity.

The six soldiers at center of Bergdahl debate

What President Obama really did this week is to guarantee a much lower military interest in risking life and limb to take high-value prisoners alive given that there is now a possibility that they will released in the future. Instead, missions will be more focused on killing than capturing these targets.

Hillary Clinton wanted tougher deal for Bergdahl, former officials say

The Obama team clearly believed that chanting "We Don't Leave Americans Behind" would be a winning argument. Every spokesperson for the administration repeated the line. Susan Rice, now national security adviser, replayed her post-Benghazi role of going on Sunday shows and either misleading or lying to the American people, claiming that this was "a joyous day."

One final example of the Left's passion for self-delusion and dishonesty.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asserted that we never negotiated with the Taliban. Other administration figures took up that claim.

Opinion: Five tough ethics issues in Bergdahl swap

It is so pathetic a lie it is hard to understand how he could say it with a straight face.

The claim is that the Qataris talked to the Taliban.

In this case, of course, the Qataris were our agents and were negotiating for us. But we are asked to indulge the deceit.

The State Department may be the second-most urgent reform target after Veterans Affairs. Congress should link together the three "B's" and understand that we are faced with delusion across our national security apparatus.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
updated 9:38 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT